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‘Cyber-attacks may be next pandemic’

Cybersecurity experts have warned organisations and individuals to be securityconscious on the internet as cybercriminals are raising their games by the day. This is even as they warned that the next pandemic after COVID- 19 may be cyber-attacks. The experts under the aegis of Committee of Chief Information Security Officer of Nigerian Financial Institution (CCISONFI), who spoke at a one-day cybersecurity training for ICT journalists, said cybersecurity threats and attacks would continue to increase as more people embrace the internet.

They, however, noted that while 100 per cent prevention of attacks is not possible, measures can be put in place to mitigate the effects of any attack. Speaking at the training organised by the Cybersafe Foundation, in partnership with CCISONFI, the Group Chief Information Security Officer, Access Bank, Favour Femi- Oyewole, warned that cyberattacks would be the next post- COVID-19 crisis, saying that it was critical for businesses and people to begin building resilience and backups for their systems, platforms and apps. She urged organisations to check their ability to bounce back should they suffer an attack.

“If anything happens to you, how quickly can you bounce back? Have you checked your resilience, do you have a backup,” she asked. According to her, integrity, confidentiality and availability of a good cyber security system must be put in place by organisations as part of their cybersecurity strategies. Femi-Oyewole added: “You need to put necessary measures in place to quickly detect any breaches and remedy. “Vulnerability is any flaw or weakness that can be exploited. There should be countermeasures in place to prevent, minimise or report any breaches on time so that corrective measures can be taken up immediately.” Human beings, she said, were the most essential and first line of defense against cyber-attacks and they should guarantee that their systems and media platforms are not left unprotected. In his presentation, the Chief Information and Security Officer, GTco Plc, Bharat Soni, said organisations should work to mitigate cyber security challenges such as insider fraud, business email compromises, ransomware and phishing.

He explained that cyber threats and assaults had increased due to technological advancements, social-economic considerations and insufficient criminal justice. Soni listed the most recent cyber security breaches as Twitter compromise 2020, Colonial Ransomware Attack 2021 and Cyber Breach of an Undisclosed Nigerian Bank 2021. According to him, social media has become a challenge to reporting cyber incidents as many people do not check the authenticity of the news posted on these social media platforms, adding that this is why media collaboration is critical to cybersecurity awareness. Also, the CCISONFI Chairman and the Chief Information Security Officer, Stanbic IBTC, Igboa Abumere, noted there is a need for awareness despite the cybersecurity regulations in the banking sector. He said: “We are highly regulated, but we still need to know how to protect ourselves.” In his presentation at the training, the co-Founder, Digital Encode Limited, Dr. Peter Adewale Obadare, enjoined ICT journalists to equip themselves with relevant knowledge in the cybersecurity space. Obadare said this would empower the journalists to inform the public with accurate and factual cybersecurity information in their reportage.

 

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